My View: Notes from the Front Row (Opinion)
There comes a time in life for everybody where they make must crucial decisions about the future.
The same goes for this city … and we are at that point.
South Lake Tahoe needs to make some critical decisions in 2020 and they need to get them right for the benefit of the entire community.
I am sure there will be people who disagree with me when I say the community has made some bad decisions.
Decisions that were made in haste and anger of the moment and at the expense of the long-term best interests of the entire community.
Over the past several years the community has voted against parking fees, against a sales tax that would have been earmarked for roads and just last year the community voted to significantly restrict vacation rentals in the city limits.
Collectively these ballot measures will cost the community over 100 million dollars in revenue over the next 20 years period all the while CalPERS continues to eat away more and more of the city budget. (More on ballot measures in a minute.)
All during this time the city has lost senior-level staff.
Most recently the city manager, who by all accounts was well-liked, is leaving.
Frank Rush came to South Shore, took the lay of the land, had a cup of coffee and decided to move on.
I wish him well.
The city council and community are left to figure out what’s next. Not only do we need a city manager, the police chief is looking for a job in the Bay Area and we have yet to replace a fire chief.
When a city manager considers a job they look at several things.
Of course, they consider the quality of life, schools, recreation, local culture and those sorts of things for their family.
But most importantly, they also look at what the actual work will be.
They consider if they can work with the council that will be there.
Is the community workable, not that they have disagreements but can they come to consensus or compromise on issues?
Can they see a bigger picture for all of the community and not just their self interests?
Finally, any potential city manager looks at the budget, both the short and the long term.
We as residents often think everyone wants to work here because of Lake Tahoe.
We often think the sun rises and sets on the South Shore, many of us came for a lifestyle first and job second.
But professionals like city managers, police chiefs, fire chiefs and others come for a job and they look for the best circumstances for success.
Quality of life issues are important, but they are secondary to success.
How beautiful a place is does not matter if the elements for success are not there.
City council has a pretty full plate in 2020, they need to find the right city manager, they’ll need to find a police chief when it’s time and fire chief and it will need to come to grips with how to deal with the range of community issues from the loop road to transmission towers. 2020 is a tall order for this city council.
Remember those ballot measures? Another reality about those ballot measures is the unintended consequences.
People will argue it is the most Democratic way, it is.
But there’s a downside to ballot measures, they are the most divisive way for a community to decide its issues, to sort out its differences.
By its nature it creates winners and losers. It further divides the community and is one of the key factors a prospective city manager considers.
Dividing the community with ballot measures serves only the interests of those who put them forward not necessarily the greater long-term interests of the entire community.
Compromise and consensus would serve the community better that ballot measures and lawsuits.
We are also in the 11th year of economic expansion and a lot of people think it will just go and go and go forever.
When the economy slows, and it will, we will wish we had that revenue we voted against.
The reality is a good economy hides a lot of sins.
The city council has a full plate. We are at the point where decisions matter.
Here is some advice. Stop listening to the loudest voices.
Keep it simple, make the best decision for the long term for the entire community.
If you haven’t yet checked out Whole Foods you might want to try it out.
I know it’s not for everybody and have heard it’s too expensive, but it’s a nice choice to have and a little competition. It will only make Raley’s and Safeway better.
It’s a Wrap
I hope everyone has a great holiday season. And if you can dig a little deeper, then give to one of the many organizations that are working to help out those in need in our community.
Everybody matters in this community.
Carl Ribaudo is a columnist, consultant, speaker, and writer who lives in South Lake Tahoe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.